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[Let's read] Dragon magazine - Part two: Gimme some Moore

So, how am I doing so far?

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Kakita Kojiro

IL-series Cylon
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Ashes to ashes? Looks like Vampire already has a supplement. Guess they got off the bat running as well. Was this a home run?
It was not particularly good, it was not particularly bad. It wasn't until Chicago By Night that Vampire knocked it out of the park.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 172: August 1991

part 6/6

Sage advice: How quickly will continual light consume an object. (It'll take years. You ever tried leaving books out in the sun? They get all faded and yellow soon, but then not a lot happens for ages)

What's the duration of ghoul touch. ( 1 round per level. Note that the duration of the spell, and the paralysis it causes, are completely different.)

Can you make anti-magic shell permanent around a building (no, and it would be too small anyway. Yes, NPC wizards may break this rule in modules. You should be used to that by now. )

What happens if you try and co-exist with your clone (All sorts of bad stuff. It can getas complicated as you want to make it.)

Is a sun blade's sunray power the same as the spell (no)

How exactly does sunray work (Skip has had to pull in many favors to answer this question. Skip hopes you're satisfied with the answer. )

Do you need special equipment to recharge a ring of spell storing (nope. It's user friendly!)

Do items get to make saves against being enchanted (what a silly idea. Any sensible item would be glad to be enchanted. Course, the problem becomes finding a sensible inanimate object :) )

Can vorpal weapons sever limbs (No. Only heads. You cut heads. That's it.)

Does changing gender affect your ability scores (No. We have purged the sexism found in 1st edition from the game! )

Can you wear gauntlets over gloves, cloaks over robes, boots over slippers, etc etc.

(Dayum, man! You sure do pick at it. You know that won't make it better, right? Skip really must lobby harder for a formalization of the item slot system )

Novel ideas: Spelljammer and Ravenloft are the focus of this month's column. Unlike FR and Dragonlance, they're just starting out, and their success is uncertain, so they don't merit a full one each. Course, one is going to go on to success several orders of magnitude above the other, but they don't know that yet. They're just putting out two books for each of them, and seeing who bites. Will you pick the cloakmaster cycle, angsty Vampires, or equally angsty Death Knights? Whichever way, they have some crossover with the established AD&D worlds, just to get in a few more people. Guess we're well and truly in the era where they tie together as much as possible, so as to make it tricky to appreciate it properly unless you buy a load of other stuff. How very tiresome.

Lone Wolves: Another of Ed's deliveries of twinked out NPC's here to ensure the Realms is packed up with enough whimsical but largely benevolent high level characters that the world is never in any true danger of being destroyed. Someone's bound to stumble on any plots and foil them even if your characters fail. Maybe they'll even get a novel about their exploits and angsty backstory. :p

Elsura Daunir is a superpowerful wizard who's been "cursed" with the power to shapeshift into a cat at will. If you're mean to her in kitty form, she'll exact revenge in ironic fairytale fashion. I think that says it all. Someone didn't read Dale's editorial this month.

Baelam the Bold lost his hand, but has grafted a Golem one on in it's place. This has made his so badass he's completely immune to all pain effects. So more stuff you can't replicate then. Mutter mutter mutter.

Dragonmirth has an interesting mix of old and new artwork styles. Yamara has more fraternisation between the good and bad guys. Twilight empire has a blatant David Bowie lookalike elf. And another fight scene. Well they've got to keep things chugging along nicely.

Through the looking glass: Convention season is here, and this month's column features the things you are likely to find there but not in regular shops. The small companies, the custom stuff, things you might not buy too often. Quite a few of them are vehicles. Some futuristic ones, some historical ones, both look rather eager to blow someone to pieces with their large weapons. Much the same can be said of the humanoid miniatures. Kraag warriors from Space:1889. An unusually technologically advanced troll. Goblins on small adorable wolves. Some amazon swordswomen from Talislanta. And most bizarrely, a large mini of the Beast from the recent live action Beauty and the Beast tv series, which is our only 5 star product this month. Huh. Well, as they said, it'd make a good present, or possibly a suitably imposing angsty handsome demon lord when juxtaposed with regular sized minis. Why should Grazzt have all the fun? :p

Another rather good issue as they make several significant, if somewhat tentative steps into the future, and produce a whole bunch of other good articles. It's a useful package with something for a wide range of readers, although as ever, some of them aren't much good for me. Still, once again, it is a good deal better than most of last year's issues. Looks like quality is on the up again.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 173: September 1991

part 1/6

124 pages. Hello to the beginning of another campaign world. Dark sun's been teasered for a bit, but now it's arrived. And in another indicator of their departments gradually coming to co-ordinate better, it gets a special issue straight off. Buck Rogers managed that, but none of the D&D settings have before. Course, that does mean the themed section is likely to be all stuff by regular writers, but that doesn't mean it'll be poor quality. I just hope it'll be more useful for actual games once they've bought the books than Buck's crap was.

In this issue:

Letters: Roger decides it's time to sluice off some of the ridiculous letters again, before they overflow and cause a dreadful mess all over the office. They do get a lot of them, it seems.

A really pissed off letter about issue 168's editorial. Your attempt at self justification was pathetic! Dear oh dear.

An absolutely hilarious continuation of the saga of Waldorf, drawing upon all the letters previously published on the subject. Someone's been reading the magazine for quite a while and doing their research. See, without continuity, you couldn't have absolute gems like this.

Another letter about 168's editorial, with a rather specific bit of niggling. Babies are such a big issue, and raising them rather awkward for active adventurers.

A letter from someone really miserable that he can't get girls to roleplay with him. You're in luck. Vampire only just came out. Although judging from this, that may well not solve the issue, but that's a problem with your social skills, rather than the game. If I can spend years doing dance training and not get any actual dates from it, you can definitely flub meeting people through roleplaying.

A very badly written letter asking how much damage bullets do in D&D. Less than you think, given inflating HP.

Editorial: Or Roger goes LARPing. Looks like things are on the up for that, with their third reference this year. Interphaze III seems to be a close adaption of D&D, using the same classes, and much of the same monsters and magic. They also had a whole bunch of games within the game, including an IC banquet, elven belly dancers, and stuff for the kids. He doesn't explain exactly how the rules differed so stuff could be resolved without dice, but he certainly had a good time, packing a hell of a lot in. Another good reminder that he'd probably like to cover a larger variety of stuff in the magazine, but if people aren't sending it in, that's not an option. Oh well, can't fault his enthusiasm, even after all this time. As long as he's here. he'll keep on trying.

The monstrous side of the dark sun world: Welcome to the least generic AD&D world yet. Even more than Dragonlance, Dark Sun is defined by the elements it leaves out. Both in classes and monsters, there are pretty significant removals, particularly on the divine side. And existing things are also changed quite a bit. Dwarves frequently have obsessions other than mining or crafting. Elves aren't nearly as long lived, but a lot better at endurance running. Halflings are savage cannibals. Thri-kreen are much the same as ever, but have a lot more prominence, and human-giant and human-dwarf hybrids are relatively common, thanks to the Sorcerer-kings breeding programs. Oh, and everyone has psionics. So far, no great revelations that you won't also get if you buy the boxed set. As a stopgap until they get their own Monstrous compendium, they give you info on what stuff from other supplements is suitable. Gotta collect 'em all! So probably pretty nifty at the time, and decent as promotion, but not really very useful in retrospect. Bah.

A letter from the wanderer: Another article that would have been cool and new then but now seems rather dated. The undead of athas! Not just standardised collections of stats, but individuals all, frequently retaining all their class levels. Thanks to this and Ravenloft, that's actually become pretty ubiquitous in later editions, so this is another one that really has lost all it's impact with the passing of time. The writing is pretty good though, with Troy Denning demonstrating his way with words and descriptions. So once again, it's neat to read as a historical artefact, but about as useful as a calculator when you now have an iPhone. On we go then.

Random magic for organized minds: And so, like the Buck Rogers special, it seems the only still useful part of this themed section is the last article. Since Wizardry is mostly forbidden on athas, you'll have a hard time finding spells, and have to take what you can get. And that's where this bit of random tableage comes in, dividing spells up into (relatively) common, uncommon and rare. Something you can use with zero effort, and put an analogue of in your own game with minimal effort. One I'm strongly considering using myself.


Booze Hound
Validated User
Can vorpal weapons sever limbs (No. Only heads. You cut heads. That's it.)
Really?? I could have sworn you sever limbs randomly with a vorpal weapon. I distinctly remember rolling for head, left arm, right arm, left leg, etc....

I'm going to have to dig out my 2nd edition DMG and check that one out.

committed hero

nude lamia mech
Validated User
Really?? I could have sworn you sever limbs randomly with a vorpal weapon. I distinctly remember rolling for head, left arm, right arm, left leg, etc....

I'm going to have to dig out my 2nd edition DMG and check that one out.
I think that was for a Sword of Sharpness.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 173: September 1991

part 2/6

Bazaar of the Bizarre: Back to the Forgotten Realms we warp, to get another collection of themed items from Elminster. This time it's a dozen staves. Fighters are already well catered for in weaponry and armour, but wizards have got rather less in the past, despite it usually being them that makes the items. Good point. Since he's usually pretty good with these, that has me quite optimistic.

Rilantaver's Staff has three fairly low key but useful powers that'll make the wizard pretty popular with the whole party. Much better than a carelessly applied fireball wand backfiring on everyone.

The Staff of Battle lets you send things flying and stun them, making your wizard a lot more combat capable. It can also absorb magic missiles, apropos of nothing. Someone obviously had to put up with lots of enemies bombarding the wizard as soon as they start casting.

The Staff of Displacement has a whole range of mobility related tricks, and is another one that can protect other members of the party as well. Water, locked doors, chasms, all are no threat. Also pretty handy.

The Staff of Divergence, on the other hand is a bit passive for my tastes, being essentially an immunity to a certain attack type, with the added bonus of redirecting it on your enemies. When a PC has a power like that, chances are they won't be meeting many enemies that use the specified attack type anymore.

The Staff of Miracles lets you save lives and grants the occasional wish. All it's powers are rather charge intensive, which means you may well find yourself with some left, but not enough to power any actual abilities. Which does seem a bit wonky.

The Staff of Night lets you see in the dark, extinguish magical lights, and apropos of nothing, summon an umber hulk. Yeah, I'm not sure the connection is there. Guess you can't always be subtle.

The Staff of Scrivening lets you cheat the usual class restrictions on spells known, even letting you put priest spells in your spellbook if you can find an appropriate scroll. Now that's one that definitely has game-breaking potential. I'll bet Elminster has one of these in his collection.

The Staff of Silence is another largely defensive and utility device, but can also unleash the sounds it's absorbed to unpleasant effect. Another one that's likely to exhaust it's charges quickly if not regularly maintained.

The Staff of Spheres is one of Elminster's personal creations, a typically versatile utility device that allows you to transport all kinds of things conveniently. Offence, defence, and bad jokes are all well facilitated by this baby. See you in the fiction later then.

The Staff of Surprises is another one with an unconnected grab bag of useful effects. Whether these will save your life will probably once again depend on your brainpower, since none are hugely powerful.

The Staff of the Moonglow is another odd one, with a bunch of moon related powers such as concealment, greater attack bonus when exposed to moonlight, and being able to counter teleportation. I guess every wizard has their own pet peeves that they're determined to solve.

The Staff of Vision is pretty self explanatory, on the other hand. Invisibility detection, seeing in the dark, curing blindness. No great complaints or amazement here.

Magic mangling made easy: Nerf time! Greg Detwiler shows you how to reduce the influence magic has over your game, so that fighters and thieves can have a little more influence. A big chunk of this is devoted to going through the minutinae of the timing system. If properly enforced, spell casting times and weapon speeds make it a lot more likely that spells can be disrupted mid casting, with amusingly cruel results. Similarly, enforcing spell component tracking strictly (particularly when combined with encumbrance ) can substantially depower wizards. If you really want to be a bastard you can make the character allergic to one of their spell components. Ah, the joys of being supreme god of the universe. Another reminder that there really is no limit to your arsenal save your imagination, and AD&D's rules are simultaneously complex and flimsy enough that virtually everybody houserules them, and with a little effort, you can do whatever the hell you want to your players, and all they can do is complain or walk. One to use with caution, for creating balance by adding niggly restrictions is a textbook example of fun-sucking technique.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 173: September 1991

part 3/6

The voyage of the princess ark: A rather different entry this month. Instead of the usual load of misadventures, we have a report on Hule by Raman. A decidedly nasty, expansionistic state, it's led by the Immortal of lies, Bozdogan. (aka Loki. ) The whole place is built on circles of deceit, with each step in the hierarchy lying to all the ones below for the greater glory of Bozdogan. They'll use any methods to get you to convert, or if they don't think you'll be amenable, to swindle you of everything you've got. Don't trust them an inch. In short, the whole place seems built specifically to serve as a good villain in known world geopolitics. Y'know, if you're going to lie all the time, the last thing you want is a reputation of being a liar. A little more subtlety would probably be a good idea. I know D&D is all about the moral conflicts, but do we really want a human nation this unambigously nasty? Oh well, the change of pace is nice, even if the thing it's describing may not be perfectly designed.

We also have lots of letters this time. Lots of people are worried what the new basic set and rules cyclopedia mean for the D&D game as a whole. Bruce does his best to assuage them. Very little is going to change ruleswise, merely the presentation. We also finally get the name of the planet the Known World inhabits. Mystara. Not that impressive a reveal, but still nice. Lots more stuff coming. Seems like basic D&D stuff is selling quite healthily these days.

Out of your chair, into the action!: Looks like LARPing really is on the up, with a second article this month. Say hello to the New England Roleplaying Organisation. Looks like they take the sandbox approach to their playing, setting up the situation, and letting the players provide all the drama for themselves. Which most of them do in spades (although since there were 300 attendees, there were probably a few left out, simply by math. ) You fight using boffer weapons, and cast spells by throwing packets of corn starch at each other. :D If you do well adventuring, you can become nobility, and intrigue your way through your new associates, and hire assassins to take them down. So this is a good demonstration that this not only works, but has a pretty substantial established fanbase, and can run extended games without the drama llama ruining everything. Between this and the editorial, we should be seeing quite a few people try out LARPing for the first time in the near future. Get ready for some substantial demographic shifts.

Get your priorities straight: Hmm. Another attempt to improve upon the alignment system. As we've found before, it's not hard, and there are a number of ways to do so, depending on what aspects of morality you want to draw attention to, and possibly encourage in your game. Here's one that takes quite a different approach to the norm. Instead of some vague ideal like the standard 3x3 grid, or slightly more specific ones in SR6 or issue 24, it works by establishing your character's hierarchy of loyalties. Obviously, most evil characters put the self above any higher principles or attachments, while lawful good ones try and hold true to comrades, family, state and god simultaneously, and may well find themselves having to make hard choices. It doesn't integrate perfectly with the existing system, with some permutations not mapping to D&D alignments at all, but it does show how, for example, the githzerai can be chaotic neutral while still holding a few principles to a fanatical degree. Actually, I think it would probably work better replacing the existing system, rather than running alongside it, and could easily be slotted over some game other than D&D. In fact, it would make a good alternative to say, Pendragon's passion system or the NWoD's virtues, vices & morality, and would probably reward further tinkering with itself. A very interesting design experiment indeed, and one that pushes forward the idea that what statistically defines your character influences the way you play, and by changing the stats of the game, you can slant people towards certain choices and playstyles. Quite a few designers could learn from that. I like this article quite a lot.

The role of computers: Death Knights of Krynn is another of SSI's solid conversions of AD&D, allowing you to bring in your characters from previous games to kick Lord Soth & his cronies butts. This is one of those reviews where they give you a lot of hints, because the game isn't easy, and will probably take quite a bit of grinding and resource management. The biggest reminder, as is often the case, is to save at every opportunity. Man, you'd think people would start putting autosave apps out.

Space Quest IV also gets a good review, and is a lot funnier as well. Travel into the past and the future of the series to save your son. Full of humour, and with tons of things to discover, it looks like a good one for those who like lighthearted, snarky games.

Zarlor Mercenary completes a hat trick of 5 star reviews. A shoot-em-up for the Atari Lynx, it has multiplayer networking for up to 4 people, and remains fully functional even with that many playing. Now the tricky part'll be finding 4 people who own atari lynxes. :p


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 173: September 1991

part 4/6

Sage advice: How can the aztec gods live on the prime material if deities can't visit there. (One god can get told off by their peers, but when it's a whole pantheon going around engaging in blood sacrifices and ignoring the usual social conventions, it's a little harder. It's like the cops don't go up to that dirty great ranch full of inbred hillbillies who run a moonshine racket, play their music really loud and fire guns at 3 in the morning. )

Similarly, how can Iuz live on the prime material (again, he's a chaotic evil half-demon who worked his way to demigodhood. He doesn't give a damn about your rules, and no-one's come along who can sort him out yet. Perhaps your adventuring team would like to give it a go. Go on, we'll be over here, watching. )

Why are god's weapons so badass (because they're gods. )

Why does the complete fighters handbook let paladins and rangers specialize (Power creep. They have to encourage you to buy it somehow.)

How many weapons can you specialize in (Again, originally just 1, but if you buy the complete fighters handbook, you can do all sorts of forbidden things. Our splatbook writers care nothing for the fine details of the game and it's balance )

I have a blatantly illegal character! Look at it! I'm so proud! ( Great. Another fine mess Skip has to tidy up. Stupid DM's not properly house-training their players. We oughta get social services in, have them taken away if they can't look after them properly.)

What's the speed of a touch attack (3)

Can you reflect beholders gaze attacks with a mirror (no. They're rays, not attacks based on you seeing them. )

Do liches keep their racial capabilities (probably)

Why do elf mages get to wear armour (special dispensation. Part of their sekrit magical training. )

How many daggers can you throw per round. (not as many as you think. That's supposed to be darts, not daggers. )

What can you backstab and when. (Things with backs that aren't aware of you. Simple as that. It's an assassination tactic, not something you do in the middle of combat. That would step on fighters toes. )

If you twink out you can get your chance of surprise above 100% (so it seems. But you still have a 10% chance of failure, no matter how good you are. )

I really like kender! I want to play one! (Great, another player that urgently needs housetraining. Take it away before it messes up Skip's carpet.)

Fiction: A little knowledge by Jerry Oliton. Dark Sun's co-ordinated rollout continues, with this little piece that illustrates the harsh realities of Athas from the ground level, and gives lots of setting details without being too expository about it. A young half-elf gets enslaved, and has to figure out how their psionic wild talents work if they want to escape. We also find out that the sorcerer kings are bastards, and that has been passed downwards pretty effectively; magic in general is outlawed, preservers have a secret organisation opposing the big bads, but good luck finding it, and there are lots of interesting animals replacing the standard earth ones. Not bad at all, even if it doesn't emulate the actual IC physics of psionics that well. (Co-operative powers should have been considerably easier to access than they were) I think this more than adequately served it's part in persuading people to buy the new shinies.

Chill does ghosts too! How long before wraith comes out? Another three years. Bah.

The sociology of the Flind: Spike Y Jones not only gives us another ecology under another name, but he uses the same cast of framing characters again. We get to find out another chapter in the life of Brendan Farwanderer, as told to his youthful charges. A decidedly dark one, that then comes back to haunt him in the final paragraph. Flinds may be physically pretty similar to regular gnolls, with only a few generations of selective breeding separating them, but culturally they are quite different, and rather more dangerous, for they have brains and organisation on their side to help them kill and consume the flesh of their opponents. This is a particularly epic ecology, both in size and depth, and it makes me very interested in knowing if we'll see the characters involved again. It's tricky to have proper horror unless you're emotionally invested in the characters, and introducing them, letting them hang around for a bit and then ripping them away definitely qualifies. They may not be doing ecologies as frequently lately, but the ones they have done have been of very high standard. It's good to see them not just churning them out because they're an easy way to fill a few pages every month. Now, let's hope they do get some more really good ones sometime in the not too distant future.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 173: September 1991

part 5/6

The same advert on three consecutive pages? Interesting way of doing things. Probably costs quite a bit too.

The role of books: The rocketeer by Peter David does fairly well for a film conversion, adding to the story nicely while maintaining the pulpy feel. As usual, they can both get into the characters heads more, and show bits that were cut. Time/space constraints do seem much less serious in books, for some reason.

Fallen angels by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle & Michael Flynn gets a fairly negative result, like the last one a couple of issues ago. For this reviewer, it works neither as a serious story or satire, and some of the plotting makes little sense. The brain eater is hard at work here. Choose your collaborators wisely.

Hawks flight by Carol Chase gets a pretty good review on both the worldbuilding and story fronts. Not drawing on any particular earth mythos too obviously, and full of depth, it's one that obviously took quite a lot of work. Unravelling everything may be a similar challenge for less experienced readers though. I think if we can handle Tolkien and Gygax's writings, we can get our heads round this too.

The fantastic adventures of robin hood, edited by Martin H Greenberg, is another of his anthologies that show a whole range of spins on the legend. This does of course mean there are huge jumps in tone and characterisation, as we're dealing with a vague public domain legend in the first place. Feels a bit like a cash-in on a certain obscenely profitable recent movie.

Street magic by Michael Reaves is one of those books that's too short, and splits it's attention too many ways for you to really get attached to the characters or world. Which is a shame, because what there is is pretty good. Never easy to get the length right, is it.

Extreme paranoia: Nobody knows the trouble I've shot by Ken Rolston sees the reviewer become the reviewed, in highly amusing and somewhat meta fashion. As an example of proper Paranoia play turned into a story, it succeeds brilliantly. As a conventional novel, it may be a bit too wacky and punful. Obviously depends on your tastes then.

Jandar Sunstar. The good elven vampire trapped in ravenloft. Oh, the angst. AAAAANNGGGST I say! Oh well. He can have yaoi buttsecks with Strahd and they can both whine about their respective lost loves for a while or something. Hee. That'll get the fangirls in. :p

Forum: Matt Barrett picks apart the argument that what assassins do is always evil. Killing things that are going to kill you if you don't get them first is entirely justified, even if you use stealth and take them out while unsuspecting. As Gary himself said, good doesn't have to be stupid. But the ends do not justify the means. Slippery slope, dude.

Michael Kellam bites on the Batman's alignment debate hook. I knew someone would. Given his current level of whoreswhoreswhoreswhores darkness in characterisation, it's debatable if he's even good, and certainly not lawful. Once again, we are painfully reminded that Thiiiis IIIIiiis theeeee 90's!

Mark D. Krieter has to deal with the problem that one player is far cleverer and more motivated than all the others, and thus tends to outshine them and get more stuff and spotlight time. Yeah, that's a tricky one. You want to reward involvement, but at the same time, you don't want the other players feeling left out. An issue that I'm still struggling with myself.

John H. Goins thinks that vampire PC's, at least temporarily, and particularly if they're seeking redemption, is not a bad idea at all. And a heavy-handed horde of celestial being removing them from play is neither fun or fair, given the number of powerful evil things wandering around canon modules unmolested.

Robert W. Heym ponders the morality of raising mindless undead. Is the body no more than a sack of meat once vacated? Is making them them as turning training acceptable behaviour for good clerics? Since they do say it's evil behaviour, I'm guessing there are some issues. Means and ends once again come into conflict.

W. N. Knierim, Jr wonders how it relates to issue 164's editorial if you like to play lots of different characters. It means you can't make up your mind, duh. :p

Elizabeth Caetta has written a 5 volume set of stories based on the adventures of her characters, that can never really be published. Now that's dedication. Also a good reminder of how things can be huge for one person, but absolutely minute in the overall scheme of things. Makes you wonder why we bother sometimes. It's all going to be eaten up when the sun goes, and we won't even be a footnote on the cosmic scale. I'll bet those 25 pounds of typed paper have already been lost or destroyed by something. :(


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 173: September 1991

part 6/6

TSR Previews: Dark Sun is here! The boxed set of blasted oppression. A bleak world, ruled by sorcerer kings, where everyone is psionic and starts at third level. New classes, new races, and very weird spins on old ones. What can you do to make this world your own? Well, for a start, let your PC's take the starring role in ending oppression, rejuvenating the world and becoming epic heroes, not the NPC's in The Verdant Passage, our very first novel, which straight away makes big changes for the better (for a certain value of better) Remember, metaplot is only an example, not something you have to follow slavishly.

Greyhawk continues to get sporadic support with WGS2: Howl from the north. You have the 5 blades, now you have to keep them from the ice barbarians. Easier said than done.

The Forgotten Realms are still focussing on the Harpers, in Elfshadow by Elaine Cunningham. Is there treachery amongst their ranks? Surely not. Still, once an assassin, always an assassin.

Ravenloft gets it's own book full of little anthology adventures. RR2: Book of crypts. What monsters does your wallet have the money to pay for? Grr, aargh.

Spelljammer continues the cloakmaster cycle. Nigel Findley takes us Into the Void. Don't trust the brain-eater! They might be able to play civilised, but they're reading your mind, talking down to your limited intellect and drooling at the thought of cracking open your cranium. You cannot deal with them as equals. Have you learned nothing from a life of sheep farming?

Marvel superheroes finishes messing around with the cosmic control rod in MSL3: Spore of Arthros. Let's kick some negative zone horror butt.

Buck Rogers goes for some timed drama in 25CS4: Phases of the moon. No surprises where this one is set. What is surprising is that it seems to be mostly negotiation based. How's that going to work? Probably not very well, as this is their last product before the line gets abruptly and unceremoniously cancelled. Seeya later, don't let the door hit your ass on the way out. :p So much for that plan.

And finally, our standalone novel this month is The Cloud People, by Robert Kelly. A savior from the skies? Relying on heroes of destiny is risky gamble at best. They'll rarely be exactly what you expect. Did this one subvert the fantasy formulae in any way, or was it just more schedule filler?

Dragonmirth is down wit da dungeoneering. Yamara has yet more romantic drama. of the undead kind. David bowie gives us a great shot of his area in Twilight empire.

Through the looking glass: Return of the lead banning bill from beyond the land of sanity! We thought it was defeated, but in congress, things go though more revisions and appeals than any horror movie series. Beware! Do not assume rationality will prevail, or like the sensible character who doesn't believe in monsters, you'll be first on the chopping block. Proactiveness and being paired up with an attractive member of the opposite sex when you lobby will save your hobby! :p This little subplot continues to give and give.

Lots of actual reviews this month as well, as we lead up to staying at home painting season. ( o_O )
Stone mountain miniatures step into the future with two packs of alien soldiers.
Thunderbolt Mountain, on the other hand, give us a fairly large wizard piece to invoke wrath with.
Houston's Ships convert the USS Eagle to the Space:1889 game.
Black Dragon Pewter have changed address, and also give us a fairly statuesque female warrior.
Stan Johansen Miniatures are in a fusion cannon mood, for some reason.
Lance and Laser create a mini of the famous wizard Tamerlin from Talislanta. Now that's a privilege I don't think Elminster's had yet.
Alternative Armies release a pair of well-armoured and mounted mercenaries.
Grenadier release a whole set of different wood elves. They'll jump out of the forrest and get you happily.
Ral Partha easily manage the most, and most official stuff. A Troll. Some Golems. Kobolds! Being licensed does have it's benefits. Get those kobolds in bulk if you want to properly emulate the game.

Another issue in which the themed section is the worst part of the magazine, with it being largely promotion that's a waste of space if you actually buy the products. There are quite a few other useful and entertaining articles here though, and some definite signs of the widening scope of the hobby, and the very different ways you can play which still count as roleplaying. So it looks like the problems in this era are largely management ones, as they have more than enough good articles to fill the magazine, but have to take on some dubious ones for commercial reasons. Maybe I should read the issues back to front if I want to enjoy them more. .eno txen eht otno ,llew hO
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